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Provide advanced payment solutions to small and medium-sized businesses

Fuse Labs' decentralized payment network is set to revolutionize payment transfers and establish an infrastructure that brings blockchain technology within reach of small businesses. 'We provide businesses with a secure payment alternative through a familiar and straightforward interface, offering transparency and reduced costs. The future of money is digital, and businesses recognize this,' says founder Mark Samargon

Yoel Tzafrir, in collaboration with ICBW3. 03 September 2023

Mark Samargon
Mark Samargon | Photography: Yael Tzur

Mark Samargon, the serial entrepreneur who launched Fuse Labs four years ago, started his entrepreneurial journey at 14 by founding an e-commerce company, which still operates today. Since then, Samargon has launched several ventures in the burgeoning field of payment technologies, focusing on Bitcoin, currency technologies, and electronic wallets. Among his ventures was the Israeli startup Colu, known for its digital wallet application. In 2019, he established Fuse Labs, aiming to develop an innovative blockchain-based payment platform with the vision of creating a digital payment network as seamless as cash transactions.

'We’ve developed a business-oriented payment network using smart contracts, cutting down on clearing costs and eliminating entry barriers,' explains Samargon. 'This network transcends borders, is globally accessible, and is powered by partners who maintain, expand, and enrich it with new services. It marks the first blockchain initiative out of Israel, offering an open, fully automated service designed to democratize blockchain payments for consumers and businesses alike, presenting an alternative to obsolete cash transactions and traditional credit and settlement services that still rely on plastic cards.'

He further notes, 'Our fees are incredibly low, almost negligible, and don’t depend on the transaction amount. Essentially, the fee covers account-to-account (a2a) transfers, payable in Fuse tokens.

A secure payment alternative with a familiar and simple interface

According to Samargon, Fuse offers businesses a cost-effective, rapid, and secure payment solution, necessitated by the inadequacies of traditional payment infrastructures. 'The leading credit card companies rely on outdated 1960s technology. This tech isn't just inaccessible and insecure for online transactions; it's also ill-equipped for the digital age,' he explains. 'What's the real service these major credit companies provide? They levy a significant fee on businesses for risk management. Plus, their payment methods can't handle transactions under 30 cents, blocking micropayments. Our advanced technology overturns these limitations, providing small and medium-sized businesses with the benefits of inexpensive processing, enhanced security, and the ability to handle micropayments. This is all made accessible through a straightforward, user-friendly mobile interface, supported by a robust backend infrastructure.

This represents a seismic shift in the payment industry. Currently, transferring money involves navigating through intermediaries, obtaining credit from banks, and everyone taking a cut in the underwriting process," he elaborates. "Even fintech companies like Stripe are not exempt from dealing with credit card companies. We're changing the game by providing businesses with a secure payment alternative that's both intuitive and straightforward. We emphasize transparency and cost efficiency. The future is digital, and businesses are keenly aware of this.

Development of new business models

Fuse Labs is based out of its research and development center in Tel Aviv and currently boasts a team of about 30. The company has successfully secured initial funding and is gearing up to raise a substantial round of financing within the next six months. Plans are also in place to expand the team. 'Despite our platform's emphasis on decentralization, we were adamant about maintaining a physical presence in Tel Aviv,' Samargon underscores. 'Our core expertise resides here. Beyond being a tech hub, Israel stands out as a B2B powerhouse, and we aim to capitalize on these strengths."

It's clear that Mark Samargon is a staunch advocate for blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies it supports. He's convinced that the ecosystem burgeoning around these technologies can significantly influence the emergence of innovative business models, potentially bringing a breath of fresh air to a business sector currently stifled by the financial industry's lack of competition. However, he acknowledges a notable divide in interest; while investors, both tech-savvy and institutional, are keenly focused on crypto, the broader public has yet to fully embrace it.

"Web 3.0 won't emerge overnight," he remarks. "It hasn't fully reached its potential audience yet, and we're still uncovering the 'long tail' of users. There's definitely a learning curve involved, but just like the Internet, it's expected to catch on in a major way. Currently, around 30 million people globally are engaging with blockchain technology, and our collective aim in the industry is to expand that number to billions."

Infrastructure for worldwide business

Fuse is currently enjoying significant success, particularly in Southeast Asia and Africa, where there's a strong demand for digital financial services. These regions boast advanced regulatory environments that actively support service providers. 'Many countries in these areas are ambitious about transitioning to a cashless society, catering not just to locals but also to the numerous tourists visiting,' Samargon notes. 'For instance, in Thailand, our services have received an overwhelmingly positive reception. The country's second-largest crypto exchange is collaborating with us to develop payment solutions for both locals and tourists on our network.'

Samargon further observes that these regions collectively aim to create a unified digital network accessible via a common app. 'In these countries, mobile phone ownership is widespread, whereas credit card usage is rare. However, when it comes to digital payment methods, they are technologically savvy and eager to embrace the future.'

However, interest in Fuse's platform isn't limited to developing countries alone. Fuse's technology is also being utilized as a foundational infrastructure for businesses in the US, Europe, and the UK. For instance, a startup participating in the FCA Regulatory Sandbox is leveraging Fuse's technology to bolster the local urban economy in Liverpool. Similarly, in Europe, Fuse's platform has facilitated fundraising efforts for associations and the advancement of social projects.

What other uses can you suggest?

"For instance, ChromePay, an Israeli startup founded by alumni of the Pears Program, leverages our technology to bring financial services to Ethiopian farmers who struggle to access such services due to a lack of ID cards. Their innovative solution creates a digital, decentralized, biometric identity that is secure and cannot be transferred or forged, serving as a unique identifier. This enables farmers to access financial services from authorized providers, build a credit history through loan repayment, and gain access to further services.

"Another application is the creation of customer clubs. Any business can quickly set up a personalized customer club for its products or services in just ten minutes, offering benefits while drastically cutting costs. This setup can also facilitate access to digital wallets, enable micropayments, and support buying and selling — functionalities for which international brands invest millions. Currently, our focus is on developing a comprehensive infrastructure for business payments. Our aim is to democratize payment methods to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which, unlike major brands like Starbucks, haven't been able to tap into the advantages of decentralized payments due to practical accessibility barriers. Fuse was founded to address this gap."

What does the future hold for us?

"Blockchain technology is making significant inroads across various sectors: gaming, fashion, sports, art, and leading brands like Louis Vuitton, to name a few. I'm convinced that as it continues to evolve, it will become an integral part of the traditional financial system. Current systems struggle to deliver a satisfactory user experience, whereas platforms like ours can provide services comparable to banks', facilitate swift international money transfers, reduce fees, and offer digital wallets and investment applications. The growing number of players and service providers is fostering healthy competition. Most importantly, this represents the future."

In collaboration with ICBW3.


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